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Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain Juniper)

Rocky Mountain Juniper, Rocky Mountain Red Cedar, Mountain Red Cedar, Colorado Red Cedar, Western Red Cedar, River Juniper, Western Juniper, Cedro Rojo, Juniperus scopulorum var. columnaris, Juniperus virginiana ssp. scopulorum, Juniperus virginiana var. montana, Juniperus virginiana var. scopulorum, Sabina scopulorum

Juniperus scopulorum, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Rocky Mountain Red Cedar, Mountain Red Cedar, Colorado Red Cedar, Western Red Cedar, River Juniper, Western Juniper, Cedro Rojo, Evergreen Shrub, Evergreen Tree
Juniperus scopulorum, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Rocky Mountain Red Cedar, Mountain Red Cedar, Colorado Red Cedar, Western Red Cedar, River Juniper, Western Juniper, Cedro Rojo, Evergreen Shrub, Evergreen Tree

Juniperus scopulorum is a versatile and attractive evergreen, ideal for a range of landscaping purposes due to its hardiness, low maintenance requirements, and striking appearance. Its adaptability to various environments makes it a favored choice in diverse settings.

Juniperus scopulorum: An In-depth Look

Juniperus scopulorum, commonly known as Rocky Mountain Juniper, is a slow-growing evergreen conifer prized for its dense, pyramidal shape, and attractive blue-green to silvery-blue foliage. It’s valued for its aesthetic appeal and adaptability. Rocky Mountain Juniper is long-lived (250-300 years) and is the parent of many garden cultivars.

Native: Rocky Mountain Juniper is native to western North America, from southwest Canada to the Great Plains of the United States.

Plant Type and Habit: This coniferous tree typically exhibits a narrow to broadly pyramidal growth habit, with a tendency to become more columnar with age. It’s known for its dense branching and upright form.

Size: Rocky Mountain Junipers can reach 30-40 feet in height (9-12 meters) and 3-15 feet in width (0.9 ro 4.5 meters), depending on environmental conditions and specific cultivar.

Cones: Junipers are dioecious with separate male and female plants. Male plants produce small pollen cones, while pollinated female plants produce small, blue-black berry-like cones, adding winter interest.

Foliage: The foliage consists of small, scale-like leaves that can range in color from blue-green to silvery-blue, providing year-round visual interest.

Bark: The reddish-brown bark is furrowed into strips or squares and peels on the branches.

Uses: Rocky Mountain Juniper is a graceful ornamental and is ideal for providing a year-round structure. It is widely used for ornamental landscaping, windbreaks, privacy screens, and in reforestation projects. Its shape and color make it popular in both residential and commercial settings. Perfect for city gardens since Rocky Mountain Juniper is tolerant of pollution. It is also a popular collected tree for bonsai.

Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 3-7, adaptable to a range of environmental conditions. It does not perform well in high humidity, or high night temperatures. It is also intolerant to ice.

Wildlife: Many wildlife species feast on juniper berries. Excellent for wildlife gardens, this conifer provides good nesting, cover, and seeds for small mammals. It also attracts Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbird, Evening Grosbeak, and many other species. It is also the host plant to the olive butterfly.

Toxicity: Junipers are generally not toxic, but the cones can cause mild stomach upset if ingested in large quantities. Foliage may cause skin irritation. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling.

Deer and Rabbit: Relatively resistant to deer and rabbits, which makes it suitable for areas where these animals are a concern.

Drought: Once established, it has a good tolerance for drought conditions, making it a good choice for water-efficient landscapes.

Salt: Exhibits moderate salt tolerance, making it suitable for planting in coastal areas or landscapes where saline soil or salt spray may be present.

Invasiveness: This Juniper is not considered invasive. It grows in a controlled manner, maintaining its narrow form.

Benefits: Provides year-round aesthetic appeal with minimal maintenance. It’s also valuable for wildlife habitat and soil stabilization.

Rocky Mountain Juniper Growing Tips

Light: Prefers full sun for optimal growth and health. Can tolerate light shade but may have reduced foliage density.

Soil: Thrives in well-drained soil. Adaptable to a wide range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils. Tolerates dry, rocky soils and does not perform well in wet soils.

Water: Requires moderate watering, especially when young. Established plants are relatively drought-tolerant. Ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot. Overwatering should be avoided.

Fertilizer: Light fertilization can be done in spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can harm the plant.

Pruning: Minimal pruning is required, mostly for shaping or size control. Best pruned in late winter or early spring.

Propagation: Propagated through semi-hardwood cuttings, typically in summer.

Pests and Diseases: Junipers are often prone to twig blight and needle blight. They also act as hosts for cedar-apple rust and similar rust diseases during part of their lifecycle. In wet, poorly drained soils, root rot can be a problem. Additionally, they may occasionally suffer from insect pests like aphids, bagworms, webworms, spider mites and scale insects.

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 7
Heat Zones 1 - 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Cupressaceae
Genus Juniperus
Common names Rocky Mountain Juniper, Western Red Cedar, Juniper
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 30' - 40'
(9.1m - 12.2m)
Spread 3' - 15'
(90cm - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Juniperus chinensis ‘Kallay’s Compact’ (Chinese Juniper)
Juniperus chinensis ‘Holbert’ (Chinese Juniper)
Juniperus chinensis ‘Angelica Blue’ (Chinese Juniper)
Juniperus chinensis ‘Fairview’ (Chinese Juniper)
Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Heaven’ (Rocky Mountain Juniper)
Juniperus horizontalis ‘Bar Harbor’ (Creeping Juniper)

Recommended Companion Plants

Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine)
Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)
Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 7
Heat Zones 1 - 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Cupressaceae
Genus Juniperus
Common names Rocky Mountain Juniper, Western Red Cedar, Juniper
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 30' - 40'
(9.1m - 12.2m)
Spread 3' - 15'
(90cm - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Juniperus (Juniper)
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